The impact of a first impression can be seen through a domino effect of future meetings, opportunities and, quite possibly, future employment. Making a good first impression is extremely important, every time, no matter the occasion, setting, or circumstance.
It’s widely known that seven seconds is the average length of time you have to make a strong first impression.
The first encounter you have with someone, whether it’s planned or random, can lead to a long term association with the right first impression.
Studies show that when you meet someone face-to-face, 93 percent of how you are judged is based on non-verbal data, while only 7 percent is influenced by spoken words. Even further, when your initial encounter is over the phone, 70 percent of how you are perceived is based on your tone of voice and 30 percent on your words. So, it’s less about what you say and far more about the way you present yourself.
When it comes to making a strong first impression, consider these simple tips.
Image is everything
Make a concerted effort to be your best in every detail of your life. This includes going to work or class, participating in meetings, going to social events, volunteering, and even watching games. Take time to evaluate your personal brand, which includes the image you project. When you present your best you guarantee a winning first impression.
Dress for success
Dressing appropriately is very important in first impressions. Appropriate dress shows that you respect yourself and the people with whom you interact. If you look successful and confident, then others will have more confidence in you as well. I recommend dressing based on the occasion or setting. However, when in doubt, always err on the conservative side.
You can create a professional impression by not using poor language, slang, or words you’d typically use around your friends.
Maintain good body language
Body language is typically the first thing a person will notice about you. If your stance is slouched and closed, you will send the message that you are not interested in the other person. If it’s straight and natural, with your shoulders back, arms at your side and head up, you’ll project interest, enthusiasm, and readiness. When listening to someone, be sure to face the other person with your shoulders squared to theirs and maintain eye contact. This demonstrates you are focusing entirely on him or her.
Greet with confidence
Confidence gives off incredibly positive energy. Exuding confidence when you greet someone for the first time gives a great first impression. Follow these simple steps when meeting someone – look them in the eye, give a firm handshake, greet them by name, say your own name slowly and clearly; and smile. These will show the other person that you are positive and confident.
Shift the attention
Make the person you are meeting the center of action and conversation. I highly recommend spend at least as much time listening as talking, if not more. Demonstrate that you are interested in the other person and what they have to say by taking the time to ask questions and listen. Maintain eye contact with the person you are talking, giving him or her full attention. Make sure you are speaking clearly and loudly enough for the other person to hear – this will also show confidence.
Repeat the other person’s name
Use the name of a new acquaintance frequently. Doing this will indicate your attention and interest. By doing this, you’ll make conversations more personal by mentioning the listener’s name.
Show a sincere interest
Giving the person an indication of your sincerity and true interest in the conversation leaves an indelible impression on the person. This shows the person that you’re interested in getting to know him or her rather than simply meeting them to beef up your list of contacts.
Carry business cards
One of my mentors taught me to always have 50 business cards when networking. While it may be on the extreme side, it’s always important to provide your contact information to people you meet. Since many college students do not have business cards, I recommend designing a personal card with key contact information. Handing your card to someone you meet will increase the chances of a second meeting.
The impact of a first impression can be seen through a domino effect of future meetings, opportunities and, quite possibly, future employment. Making a good first impression is extremely important, every time, no matter the occasion, setting, or circumstance. Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. By incorporating these tips, you’ll be more prepared and value the importance of every random or planned encounter, thus leading to great opportunities.